Lessons from Walden Two

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Lessons from Walden Two

Walden Two is a novel about a fictional community in present day America. The community is a Utopia of the highest standards: the people are happy and content, there is a minimum of hurtful emotions and activities, and everyone is healthy and prosperous. It is a stark contrast with the world we are living in today. So why don't we change our society to match that of Walden Two, solving all of our nation's many problems? For one thing, we do not know if a society patterned after Walden Two will work.

Walden Two is a work of fiction; such a society has never been attempted. However, even if such a society has been proven to work perfectly, our society is not prepared for such a radical change. It is human nature to resist change. Trying to immediately convert our society to Walden Two would be disastrous, even chaotic. What we can do, however, is take apart Walden Two; find the aspects that are most needed in our society today and work towards applying them. By working toward these, we become closer to the good society, even if we never fully reach it.

One of the most hazardous aspects of our society is that we are a consumer society. People are driven to spend money; the advertising industry has become a very successful and profitable industry by effectively convincing people to spend money. Many people have more money and possessions than they will ever need, while many more people will never have enough. People are driven to make as much money as possible so they can belong to a higher social class.

None of these problems exist in Walden Two; they are solved mostly by behavioral engineering. There are no social classes in Walden Two. Everyone is equal (socially and financially), and the...

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... child will draw his or her own conclusion that listening to advertising is a very poor way to make choices. Then, as the child grows up, he or she will see for his or herself proof of this idea - it does not need to be shown to the child explicitly.

The example of advertising is just one example of how a new learning system (which is a form of behavioral engineering) can be used to eliminate the problem of a consumer society. There is no reason why the same method can be used to solve all sorts of problems, for example: distribution of wealth, environmental problems, and desire for power. This is a very radical change; however, it is a lot less radical than the society proposed in Walden Two. Social change does not happen overnight; changing the learning system will take a lot of work, but it is the first step in the right direction for changing our society.
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